Sex-selection, pop culture & tipping pt
Is the tipping point (the level at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable) approaching for a change in attitudes towards the value of women and need to have sons?
There has been a widespread, public movement condemning sex-selection by the government, ngos, and others in the community for some time now (this hard-hitting song by Sarabjit Cheema is a must-see).
Since Amartya Sen’s articulation of ‘missing women,’ the rights of women in developing countries have been at the forefront of international agendas. In a recent development, Sunita Rao, an Indian pop singer, has released a song condemning sex-selective abortion and become the spokesperson for the LAADLI campaign, funded by the United Nations Population Fund.
Suneeta Rao’s latest album WAQT’s press conference was held in Hotel Palace Heights, New Delhi. It was on behalf of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The singer is the official spokesperson of the Laadli campaign of UNFPA that focuses on the pleasure and pride of having a daughter and motivates people to fight injustice against the girl child. ‘The video of the first song in my album ‘Sun Zara’ is a dedication to all girls, Suneeta said, UNFPA has gratefully supported in making the video of this album. According to United Nations Population Fund, “This video has been made for the Girl Child, to address the issue of Sex Selection and to help stop female feticide”.
The song mentioned above, Sun Zara:
Getting artists in the mainstream involved in social problems like this can be a great way to bring the issue into the sunlight, into daily conversation. It might not be effective in all circumstances (the Beastie Boys’ support of Tibet didn’t exactly change the Chinese government’s claims on the region), but for spreading a simple message, changing an outdated social norm, it could be effective. The lyrics don’t necessarily have a lot of substance, but her message- a condemnation of sex-selection is clear. Pop music may not be as popular as Bollywood in India, but it’ll still get play. Or if the play is too small, maybe the next collaboration should be with Bollywood.
The Deputy Director of Punjab’s Department of Social Security, Women & Child Development, Ashok Sharma, says that the overall ratio of girls to boys being born in Punjab is very slowly increasing. This agency tracks the number of births in every village through anganwadi workers, and collates totals monthly by district. (Their information isn’t available online). The state average for June 2008 was 801, and though monthly averages aren’t good measures (often sharply higher or lower, but average out over time), the birth ratios by district in Punjab for June 2008 were:
Amritsar- 800; Barnala - 842; Bathinda- 793; Faridkot- 737; Ferozpur 869; Fatehgarh sahib- 919; Furdaspur- 841; Hoshiarpur - 719; Jalandhar- 716; Kapurthala - 667; Ludhiana - 730; Mansa - 720; Moga- 863; Muktsar- 811; Nawahshahr 885; Patiala- 854; Ropar- 803; Sangrur- 952; Mohali- 806; Tarn taran- 694 [courtesy of the Punjab Social Security, Women & Child Development, Chandigarh]
Unfortunately, this information represents only rural areas and no information has been collected in urban areas where the thirst for sons rages in the fight for status. These urban areas and populations have been neglected in the movement against sex-selection because urbanites are quick to point a finger at rural areas and call them ‘backwards.’ But the pervasive messages of pop culture would be quite effective in urban areas.